2:34:56 – 6th overall, 4th mixed pair
(3.2k swim, 11.6k run)
We gathered in the start pen for my second outing of the weekend. The massively misnamed sprint event will be over 2hrs of racing for even the fastest. It always seems to be pitched as an intro to swim run but this course was worthy of being viewed a full race. It had one more swim and one more run than the full distance which meant loads of short runs and swims. I was really quite excited about it. At the briefing the race directors had said if you’re racing go to the front of the pen if you’re just looking to have a go move towards the back. There was only one pair one pair at the front which we recognised as the 2nd mixed team from the previous day. The announcer proudly told us they’d decided to enter last minute and were planning on ‘smashing it’ – my thoughts that Rachel and I might squeeze on the podium evaporated and it felt like a pressure off.
Since no one else was going forward I told Rachel we may as well be on the front line. The gun went and we raced on the shoulders of the 2nd placed mixed team from yesterday holding that position for all of about 100m before deciding we’d had our fun and we better back off a little.
As we climbed the hill we had to back off further. Rachel seemed willing but I felt it was way too fast. Unlike yesterday which had a swim dominated start this was the opposite. Of the 11.6k of running virtually half was in the first two runs (of nine). I knew we’d be relatively strong swimmers so would move through the field on each of the swims.
The first run was round the southern part of St Mary’s, which we’d not seen the previous day. It was really nice, we’d tried to make sure we looked around and were passed by loads of people entering the water in 20th position. The first swim was “L” shaped round a buoy – we at least half a dozen teams. I wasn’t really paying attention not really concerned about position. I’d decided to put on my really big paddles (XL TYR Catalyst I) and found halfway through the swim my shoulder was hurting and I was shifting the paddle of my left hand to relieve the pressure in the push phase. I was concerned the big paddles were a mistake. Luckily as I warmed up I was able to swim properly.
The next run went by the end of the runway and had a big sign and light giving instructions on stopping if it was flashing as a plane was coming. The course continued like this with runs of under 2k and swims of 200-400m. Lots of transitions, some clambering down rocks, some slippy entries and exits and a little more swell adding to the difficulty. It was great fun and the transitions were certainly a lot trickier than the long distance. In the first half it was good fun as we kept going and froing with two other mixed pairs – a local pair who were real chatty and a french who seemed really competitive and pushy. There was a tricky section where we excited the swim on rocky terrain onto a small island then ran across for another short swim. We’d entered the swim to the island with them and noticed they got in either side of me. Rachel told me later they cut her up. As we exited it was clear they’d managed to draft us. The lady pretty much shouldered me out of the way as we climbed up to the top of the island. They were faster runners than us but I knew a long swim was coming after the next short run. We got well ahead and we decided to push hard on that run to ensure we entered the water well ahead of them at the next swim. We didn’t see them again till after the finish.
The other fantastic thing about this race is that our friends who raced the previous day and were still in a state to run put their running shoes on and were able to run around and see us at pretty much every entry and exit to the swims as well as many places on the course. It gave Andy great opportunity to hurl “banter” at me and encouragement at Rachel. Also lots of photos – thanks Pat.
The coastal path was lovely and in places very narrow. We continued to pass people on the swim and be passed on the run. It was clear we were passing more than were passing us so moving up the field. I also was aware that the final bit was a 1k swim followed by a 500m run so any teams passing us on the run in the latter half would certainly be caught in that swim.
We were in amongst the lead ladies pairs and could see there was quite a race. We passed two pairs in the second to last swim and the front pair were slowly catching us on a very narrow path through over-grown bracken. We stopped to let them by at a gate. Initially they were very polite and signalled for us to go first but we explained they were in a race.
As expect we passed them pretty soon on the 1k swim. Jenny had told us as we crossed the beach we were about 10th but the 3rd place mixed team was well ahead. This final swim was really good fun. We quickly passed the ladies team then just aimed to enjoy the lovely swim round the headland. Then I noticed a ladies and mens pair ahead. I decided to really push as I passed them aiming to make sure there was no question of them catching us in the final 100m.
As we exited I looked back and realised we had minutes of gap so could just enjoy the final 500m. Rachel and I have such great fun doing these events. Racing as a pair with a good friend is what makes it for me.
We crossed the line and found out we were 6th overall. I felt pretty impressed with ourselves.